How many steps: February challenge update

I spent the week trying to do better about carrying my phone so I’d have a baseline step information.  This was complicated by two factors:

  1. Not all of my pants pockets are cell-phone compatible.
  2. At the end of the day I need to plug my phone in so it can eat yummy electricity (I usually do this as soon as I get home so I don’t forget).

Add to that that my DH and I did the exact same hike on Saturday but somehow he ended up walking considerably “longer” in miles according to his phone than I did in addition to taking “more” steps even though I’m much shorter (probably because his was in his pants pocket and mine varied between my jacket and a bag used to carry jackets), and I’m fairly sure that the actual number of steps is incorrect.

However, incorrect they may be, so long as they’re consistently incorrect that’s a reasonable baseline.

Here’s what we’ve got:

Jan 25: 1761
Jan 26: 2127
Jan 27: 1519 (incompatible pants day)
Jan 28: 2134
Jan 29: 2362
Jan 30: 10862
Jan 31: 6430

So that tells me that I can get 2000 steps per day pretty easily.  Here’s my plan for the month (minimums):

Week 1: 2500 steps/day
Week 2: 3000 steps/day
Week 3: 3500 steps/day
Week 4: 4000 steps/day

I know it seems pretty modest, but it did take a 2 hour hike plus grocery shopping and walking to the library to get that 10,862 step number and I have some deadlines this month so two hours+ of exercise each day just isn’t feasible.  Plus I don’t wear the phone all day, though I bet by week 4 I’ll be better about remembering it during the day even if I still plug it in when getting home at night.

I will allow myself to take a break if I am genuinely sick (not the irritating cold I’m nursing). If I break my leg or something I’ll find an alternative exercise.

Wish me luck and a lack of broken limbs!

25 Responses to “How many steps: February challenge update”

  1. The frugal ecologist Says:

    Interesting. I only average 2-3k if I don’t leave our very small house for the day & don’t really do anything (I.e. Internet/tv watching binge). I’d recommend getting a cheap pedometer – I think it’ll be more motivating to have a more accurate number.

    David Sedaris has a hilarious essay about how obsessive you can get counting steps. Hope it doesn’t become your new addiction!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Too late. And no, not more motivating.

      • Debbie M Says:

        I can easily get less than 500 steps if I stay home all day hanging on the computer and watching TV. And that’s with my pretty accurate pedometer that’s always in my pocket because it rarely needs a new battery.

        I think your plan sounds great and yes, I happily wish you luck. Do you have any strategies? Some of mine are:
        * pace more–like when waiting for the bus, talking on the phone, or waiting for something to cook
        * walk to near places instead of using a car
        * take stairs instead of the elevator (this doesn’t add many steps, but is definitely good thigh use)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Yesterday I got my number up by pacing while waiting for DH to get me. Today DH is out of town and I have the car which means I parked in the pay lot which is a trek, so I’ll probably get steps without even trying. And *tomorrow* DH is back but he’s taking the car all day which means I’m dropping off and picking up both kids on foot (which is not near, but also not far enough to justify an uber). But Friday it will probably be back to pacing. :)

      • Debbie M Says:

        Sounds good!

  2. Catwoman73 Says:

    I echo what the frugal ecologist said- go out and get a small, cheap pedometer that you can clip onto the waistband of your pants. They tend to be more accurate, and will absolutely be more accurate in your case, since it would be with you all day. Good luck- I know how tough it is to accomplish everything we need to accomplish every day AND make time to exercise.

      • Norwegian Forest Cat Says:

        I’m with N+M on this one – an accurate pedometer is only important if you’re competing against other people.As long as your method is consistent day to day, it’s fine!

        I have (had? Maybe lost it yesterday?) a Jawbone UP, which I got because it buzzed at me if I sat down too long. It routinely racked up 15,000+ during a typical work day (involving walking to/from work + multiple cross-campus walks), but I also know I talk with my hands and that would register. The app would tell me “Whoa! you were really moving from 3:30-4:00! Were you exercising then? We’ll add it to your workout log!” when I was really just having a vigorous discussion with someone about a project. :)

  3. Cloud Says:

    Go you! I hope you enjoy your challenge.

    On an somewhat related note, it makes me angry when I find pants I like the fit/look of but their pockets are too small (or decorative or non-existent) to hold my cell phone, even if I let it stick out of a back pocket. If I ever end up with more money than I know what to do with, I’m totally starting a line of boring, predictable women’s clothing. With pockets.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      In this case, my grey pants were totally dumbphone compatible, but they don’t fit the larger iphone 6. Unexpected! Most of the rest of my pants are fine.

    • chacha1 Says:

      I am seriously considering transitioning to cargo pants, if I can find some that will pass for the fairly-casual office I work in, just so I can stop carrying a damned handbag. The lack of pockets in women’s clothing is offensive. :-) Dear Patriarchy, we need our hands free too.

      • Debbie M Says:

        What I really love are the pockets in blazers and coats. Especially the interior ones that men get to have. Too bad men’s blazers are too big for me and the sleeves on boy’s blazers are too short. But you could do like Miser Mom and sew on your own interior blazer pockets.

      • chacha1 Says:

        I overheat if I wear a jacket. Yay perimenopause?

  4. Leigh Says:

    Good luck! After a 2015 of not the best exercise, my goal this year is 5,000 steps average per day. Somehow by making that my goal instead of 10,000, then I’m getting close to 10,000 many days…

  5. Linda Says:

    In my hiking group we had a few conversations about how each of us had a different reading on our various step tracking devices. Even those of us using dedicated trackers (instead of just our phones) found that we got different readings when we were walking next to each other along the path. Weird.

    Using just my iPhone health app I was getting about 10,000 steps a day by walking around inside the house, plus two short (maybe 30 to 40 minute) dog walking sessions per day. I guess one’s stride and/or amount of jostling/hand activity (as NFC says) has some influence on the tracker.

    Sounds like you have a solid plan in place, good luck!

  6. Lisa Says:

    I have taken the idea of a February challenge to heart and am glad to see that your numbers are even a bit lower than mine (sorry to take secret glee in your numbers!). With a fitbit I got for Christmas I discovered that I can usually get close to 5000 steps a day without really trying, so I’ve made 6000 my goal number for now. Perhaps I’ll ramp it up a bit as the month goes on. I’ve also been planning for a mini-sabbatical this summer, and in daydreaming about all the things that will make that month perfect, I realized that the “walk/take public transportation to work” fantasy is one that I can make real here at home, too. (duh) So on days I can walk to the bus stop and take the bus, I’m easily getting close to 8000 steps. Will any of this actually make a difference in my overall fitness level? Can’t hurt, I guess. Anything is better than nothing, right?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      In fairness, I don’t wear the phone all day! And that 4.5 mile hike was longer than my phone said it was this weekend. Who knows what my actual number of steps are.

      • Debbie M Says:

        At least you can gloat that your fitbit is better at counting! I could usually get 6000 steps without really trying–on days when I took the bus to work and thus had to walk to and from the bus at both ends, plus paced a very long time while waiting for the bus. Nowadays, yikes, I can get 500 in without really trying! How does your walking happen?

    • omdg Says:

      Yes those extra steps really do matter. A lot. Unfortunately. Being sedentary is so insidious. You don’t realize how much fitness you’ve lost until you try to do something more intense, and then discover all of a sudden, that you can’t. On the other hand, you feel the minor annoyance of having to expend yourself more daily every single day. It’s really depressing.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        My rear end has finally recovered from all that (unexpected) UP walking we did on Saturday.

      • Lisa Says:

        I read another interesting article in the New Years Resolutions vein last month (don’t remember where, probably NYTimes?) where the author talked about a monthly challenge type approach to changing habits (since that’s the goal here – be less sedentary, find ways to move more!). S/he suggested thinking hard about why you want to make a change and committing to any new habit for a month. If it sticks, great. If not, perhaps you need to rethink the change and find another way to make it fit. Hopefully if I can find the right combo of changes, they will become habit after a month. The curse of a sedentary lifestyle is insidious, depressing, and only gets worse as we age!

  7. Link love and a challenge update | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] those following me at home.  This week’s goal was 2,500 steps/day.  How did I do?: Feb 1: 7,194 (DH had a dentist […]

  8. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    My 3-month daily average is 16,758 steps per day, measured using a Fitbit Charge.


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